SRA announces new staff appointments in the Herbert region

Date Posted

22 September, 2015

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Sugar Research Australia (SRA) has started improvements to the sugarcane plant breeding program in the Herbert with the appointment of two new staff in Ingham.

The appointments follow the recommendations of a review into SRA’s plant breeding activities in the Herbert, with one of the recommendations being the appointment of additional staff to assist with SRA’s work in this area.

SRA announces the appointment of Andrea Bryan as farm manager for SRA’s Herbert station and new planting breeding technician, Melanie Adams.

They join the current Herbert SRA team of Heidi Clements, Fulvio Gori, Vince Blanco, Glen Park, Megan Zahmel, and Phil Patane, with the breeding program overseen by SRA breeder Dr Felicity Atkin.

SRA CEO Neil Fisher said that the appointments came in response to increased workload in the variety selection program and the new staff would form part of the bigger picture of improving the Herbert plant breeding program.

Farm manager Andrea Bryan will have responsibility to manage the SRA farm operations on station plus provide farm services for SRA research trials including those off-station. Andrea is currently a breeding technician at SRA Meringa, and she has a strong background in all facets of breeding and in the management of breeding trials, equipment and staff. She has also acted in the role of farm manager at Meringa.

Plant-breeding technician Melanie Adams is a Herbert local whose family has been heavily involved in the cane industry. Melanie holds a science degree in plant biology from James Cook University and has been working as an ecologist.

She comes with great skills in conducting detailed field observations and data collection, which are skills that are vital to successful screening of potential new varieties.

“The changes to the Herbert breeding program have come in response to local industry needs, which includes a greater emphasis on using commercial conditions to test varieties,” Mr Fisher said.

“The main extra Herbert activity will be in stage-2 selection trials, called Clonal Assessment Trials or CATs.

“This will allow us to more quickly select clones that are adapted to the needs of Herbert region. These clones will then be tested in regional Final Assessment Trials (FATs) and Regional Variety Trials (RVTs), the latter in conjunction with the Herbert Cane Productivity Services Limited (HCPSL).
“The result should be better varieties for the Herbert, leading to a more profitable industry and good outcomes for sugarcane growers and millers.”

Media contact: SRA Brad Pfeffer 0419 175 815.

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